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Moderate Alcohol Consumption Can Actually Be Good for You, New Dietary Guidelines Suggest

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Can Actually Be Good for You, New Dietary Guidelines Suggest


The 2015 Dietary Guideline for Americans emphasizes that moderate alcohol consumption does not preclude a healthy lifestyle

Emphasis on moderate drinking: This is not an excuse to binge every Friday and Saturday night.

Do you feel guilty about your penchant for a glass of wine (or two) at dinner? A little bit nervous about your burgeoning craft beer collection affecting your health? Now you have an excuse to stop worrying so much. The new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans just came out, and amongst other bits of dietary advice, it emphasizes that those who drink alcohol should do so (as always) in moderation, but admits that light to moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

The guidelines specifically state that alcohol, if consumed in moderation, “can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns.”

Moderation, according to the Dietary Guidelines created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in collaboration with the USDA every year, means one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. The guidelines serve as the official legal nutritional advice for Americans each year.

“In keeping with the longstanding dietary science, the Guidelines reaffirm that a standard drink of beer, wine and distilled spirits each contains the same amount of alcohol,” said Dr. Sam Zakhari, distilled spirits council senior vice president of science, and former division director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


4 Ways 1-Drink-a-Night Impacts Your Health

The philosopher Homer—Homer Simpson, that is—once called alcohol the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. And the guy had a point. It’s a social lubricant that leads to a slippery slope of word vomit. And actual vomit. And the effects of drinking can range from forgetting how you got home last night, to feeling like garbage the next day, to winding up in the hospital.

In a word, it’s complicated.

It’s clear that binge drinking isn’t so great for your body—you won’t find any health professionals recommending a weekend bender, ever. (If you do, it’s time to find a new doctor.) When it comes to moderate drinking, though, there is some evidence suggesting it may actually be good for your health.

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is OK to consume in moderation, and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Moderate drinking is defined as one alcoholic drink-equivalent per day—that's 12 fluid ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol). As long as you’re accounting for the extra calories a drink adds to your diet, there’s a place for it at the table.

If you don’t drink alcohol, experts don’t suggest taking up drinking for the potential health benefits—and neither do we. But if you’ve grown accustomed to your after-work drink each day, you might actually be able to derive some benefits from it. Like anything related to drinking, however, too much of a good thing can definitely be bad.

Here are a few key ways moderate drinking affects your body, for better—and for worse.

The good: Lots of studies have found that drinking moderately is connected to a boost in heart health, specifically an increase in HDL, or “good” cholesterol levels, and a decrease in blood clotting, which reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. The research suggests that moderate drinking reduces overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

There’s been a myth going around that it’s red wine specifically that comes with heart benefits, but the truth is that it’s the alcohol (ethanol) itself that’s good for your ticker. Some experts suggest antioxidants in red wine can have an impact, too, but more research needs to be done to determine how strong that connection truly is.

The bad: The key word in all of this is moderate. In some of these studies, heavy drinking was shown to drastically increase the risk of death.

The good: There’s some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may help increase bone density, specifically in postmenopausal women. Bone density loss is a big problem for women more than men, and when estrogen levels drop during menopause, women typically lose bone density more rapidly than throughout the rest of life.

The bad: Chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased osteoporosis risk, thanks to excessive alcohol’s impact on nutrient absorption.

The bad: There’s really no “good” side to this equation. Research links alcohol consumption in women to an increased risk of breast cancer. One review of two large population studies, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how alcohol impacts risk of overall cancer. The researchers found that among women, even consumption of 5-14.9 g of alcohol per day (one drink-equivalent has about 14 grams of alcohol) was associated with a minimally increased risk of breast cancer. An increase in estrogen and androgen levels is most likely the culprit, but researchers also suggest that breast tissue may be more susceptible to damage from alcohol than other organs.


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